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Zoology and Physiology

College of Arts and Sciences

Craig W. Benkman
Professor, Berry Chair


1985 Ph.D. Biology; State University of New York at Albany
1981 M.S. Biology; Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, Arizona
1978 B.A. Biology; University of California at Berkeley • (307) 399-4785 • 149 Berry Center

Research Interests:

I'm an evolutionary ecologist whose recent research has focused on mostly four questions. 1) How do interactions between crossbills (Loxia) and conifers influence crossbill diversification, and what influences the form, consistency, and strength of these and other plant-animal interactions? 2) How and why does reproductive isolation evolve between diverging lineages of crossbills? 3) Why has the South Hills crossbill (now Cassia crossbill Loxia sinesciurus) declined by 80% between 2003 and 2011, and what can be done to minimize future declines? Such a dramatic decline, apparently due to increasing temperatures that reduce seed availability in subsequent years, is especially alarming as this species is confined to two small mountain ranges in southern Idaho. 4) Why and how do certain interactions between mammals and plants lead to trait-mediated indirect interactions that cascade to other community members and ecosystem processes?

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